Help me get into Photography

LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
edited October 2019 in Help / Advice Forum
So some recent life changes have left me in need of a hobby that will get me out and, at least occasionally, around people. I think photography fits that bill and it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while. I also moved almost a year ago and am now near a lake and a couple parks that I haven’t explored that may be fun to do so with a camera. An outdoor shopping area nearby regularly has events like concerts on the green and art shows that’d also be fun to take pictures at. Those are the main things I think I’d be interested in photographing, scenery/nature (with the occasional wildlife shot) and events. Also portraits, but I feel like that may be a weird space for a hobbiest.

So my questions are;

1. Camera

I read through this thread and, for someone with no experience beyond using a phone to take non-artistic photos, would the Nikon D7500 suit my needs? Should I go for something cheaper like the D5600? Something else?

2. Learning to do the thing

Are there any online classes/blogs/etc. that you would recommend to teach me the basics like camera settings, photo composition, reading light, editing, etc.(again we are talking zero experience)

Briefly looking online, I wasn’t seeing any classes that would be easily accessible for me while working a full time job. Is there a way I should be searching for things like workshops?

3. Editing software

Half the fun for me will be editing the pictures. Is there any specific software I should be looking into that preferably doesn’t have a high monthly fee (adobe creative cloud appears to be $53/month!).

I’m in the market for a new tablet or computer soon do I need to keep this in mind, are there certain specs I should be looking for?

Thanks in advance H/A!

LostNinja on

Posts

  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    You don't need the whole Adobe suite if all you're doing is editing photos. Lightroom should be enough for your needs, which brings the cost down to like $10/mo.

    mts wrote: »
    heres how i see it being a total win situation for you
    1. stay with your wife while she dog sits. this wins husband points since she knows its out of your comfort zone
    2. have sex all over her friends house so that the next time you see her friend look at you condescendingly, you can wink back knowing you did the freaky deaky where she eats her cheerios.
    LostNinja
  • RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    Software it might also be worth looking into open source stuff. Inkscape or GIMP or something similar.

    Check with your library to see if they have a partnership with Udemy or Lynda or some other online learning place. There are a few classes on both places. Also library may have some books that are worth perusing as well.

    PSN: jfrofl
    LostNinjaElvenshaeSkeith
  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    One thing to consider before you buy a camera. Do you have any relatives or friends who might sell you lenses on the cheap? A big part of why I went with Nikon was because of that.

    mts wrote: »
    heres how i see it being a total win situation for you
    1. stay with your wife while she dog sits. this wins husband points since she knows its out of your comfort zone
    2. have sex all over her friends house so that the next time you see her friend look at you condescendingly, you can wink back knowing you did the freaky deaky where she eats her cheerios.
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Skeith wrote: »
    One thing to consider before you buy a camera. Do you have any relatives or friends who might sell you lenses on the cheap? A big part of why I went with Nikon was because of that.

    Unfortunately no, I don’t know anyone else into photography personally.

  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    edited October 2019
    The D7500 is ridiculous overkill as a first camera, so consider your budget as well. In fact, I'd start at the budget and then work your way out from there (unless there are specific things you want to do/certain features you require that force you to move up the cost chain). If you've got the budget for it, great! I'm having a lot of fun with this thing. The recommendation to rent before you buy was a solid one too. Though with a one day rental you won't really have time to figure out how to use the damn thing since modern cameras have about a billion options and menus to play with. At least, that was my experience. And I'm still learning how to use my camera after a month, nevermind the hard part of actual composition and figuring out how to use lighting to my advantage.

    If you do go with an APS-C sensor, I strongly suggest getting an 18-300mm stabilized lens assuming it's a native lens and it's a well-made native (e.g. Nikon's. IIRC Canon's is also solid). This thing can do basically everything except low light. For the most part I may as well just leave my other lenses at home for the amount I've been using them.

    Orca on
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    Also, for software, Affinity Photo is cheap ($50 to purchase, no need to rent) and a rather full-featured editor. It doesn't have library functionality. Batch processing is rather limited (e.g. you can't apply camera corrections in batch processing, which is silly). But the tone mapping is fantastic and most of its default actions allow the novice like myself to play around with settings to get the look I'm trying for.

    Skylum Luminar does have library functionality, but so far the library seems pretty tacked on. It also has crashed on me a couple times, where Affinity Photo has been solid. I also haven't had as much luck getting it to do the image processing I want, but I also haven't used it much.

    For your own privacy, consider stripping all exif data when you export to jpg. There are tools that will let you be more strategic about it (e.g. leave the lens, focal length, etc. information) but you probably don't want a timestamp, GPS location, and camera serial number attached to your photos that are out in the wild.

  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    edited October 2019
    So my decision tree is a bit more obvious:

    1) I wanted weather sealing. That automatically pushed me into the higher end prosumer bracket for everything except Pentax
    2) I wanted a physical external trigger and preferred to have a microphone plug just in case. Ditto.
    3) I'd been reading really good things about Nikon glass, so I automatically preferred Nikon, all else being equal.

    If you don't need weather sealing, a D3500 would be just fine if you want to stick with Nikon. Canon also is very good (and supposedly has a better UI), and Sony may not have the best lenses but it seems like nobody else can touch their mirrorless cameras (edit: and just because their lenses aren't best in class doesn't mean they aren't very very good). I didn't look too much further afield than those three in the APS-C and full frame form factors.

    So start with what kinds of photography you want to do, what your budget is, and the decision tree will likely start narrowing from there.

    Orca on
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    Computers will also depend on your budget. In general, you’ll want the fastest processor you can afford, with the most RAM, the fastest drive, and the largest secondary drive you can get your hands on. Preferably with a second one to back everything up. Where things get interesting is as your budget decreases and you need to start making trade offs. The PC build thread can likely help you. Like cameras though, no matter where you are at for budget, there will be something slightly better and much more expensive.


    I can say that each day of shooting results in around 30 gigs of raws for me (around 1000 photos) which I then slowly cull through and edit. Affinity Photo’s intermediate saves turn a 20 meg raw into a 500 meg file. Final exported jpegs are 1-5 megs, so do the appropriate math.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Wow, thank you for the awesome advice Orca!

    If I’m looking at Cannon’s is there a comparable model I should be looking at to the D3500/D5600? The Rebel series looks to be it.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    For software, take a look at Adobe Photoshop Elements. It comes as a standalone so no monthly payments or losing access. I got Photoshop and Premiere (video) on sale for $100.

    Cameras, get the best you can afford without going nuts.

    I like bhphotovideo.com but shop around for deals.

    "Never believe management about anything anywhere." -Aistan
    LostNinjabsjezz
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    edited October 2019
    BHPhoto and Adorama are both good. I frankly don't trust Amazon for this kind of thing these days, so all of my gear has been through those two outlets. Price has been as good or better than Amazon for the most part.

    The recommendation I've read is that you should spend the bulk of your money on your lenses--camera bodies fall behind rather quickly, while lenses will last for years, if not decades. So if you plan to get more than the kit lens, keep that in mind when you're buying the body.

    Canon's Rebel series is the equivalent of the D3500/D5600. They do very good work with their DSLRs. From my reading you pretty much can't go wrong with any of Canon, Nikon, or Sony for the APS-C format sensor cameras--the important decisions center around form factor, price, and ergonomics, along with a handful of lenses.

    Differentiators:

    If you want the flexibility of the 18-300mm native zoom lens, Nikon is the only game in town. Canon has an 18-200mm--and in all likelyhood that would be just fine. While I use the full range of my super zoom on a regular basis, given the ridiculous 21 megapixel resolution of the D7500 sensor, I could just crop to get that kind of zoom anyway in all but a few cases. There are third party lenses that will do it (Sigma and Tamron both make one), but I can't speak to their performance. And of course there's no guarantees third party lenses will work on the next camera you buy, even if it's by the same company. tl;dr: I like the 18-300mm superzoom, but I admit I could easily get by without it.

    IIRC Canon had the widest of wide angle native lenses available with incredible quality, so if that's important to you, you should go Canon. HOWEVER, as I recall, their 70-300mm kit lens is garbage and you want to avoid it (probably should check up on that statement, it's been a month and a half since I looked and I forget if that was for the full frame or the crop sensor).

    Sony is the only one that makes cameras that can operate in true silent mode--which can be important if you're taking pictures around people and want to be less obtrusive. The clack of the shutter is surprisingly loud on my D7500, especially if I'm shooting an exposure-bracketed 5-shot burst. edit: which is basically all I do these days. edit: Sony however has a limited native lens selection, unlike Canon and Nikon.

    More computer recommendations:

    For a computer I strongly suggest at least 32 gigs of RAM and an SSD (NVME if you can swing it) for processing, and one of those 4+ TB HDDs for long term storage. I'm regularly hitting 50 gigs allocated of my 64, and when I'm writing a 500 megabyte processed file to disk, the throughput of NVME helps. Similarly, at 30 gigs per outting, a 1 TB NVME drive isn't going to last very long, so it's nice to have a 10 TB monster to store to (Western Digital seems to put external 10 TB drives on sale for ~$160 every couple weeks). But like I said, check out the PC Build Thread and they can help spec a computer that will fit your budget. Be warned, like with the cameras, the suggestions will inevitably include recommendations to stretch your budget to the next tier of...whatever it is. Plan accordingly, and set a hard line if you have to.

    Accessories you may want to consider:
    * UV filters for your lenses (for protection, not for the filtering, which is no longer necessary). Circular polarizers and neutral density filters may also be fun but are less important. I already managed to slap a nice big thumbprint on my lens one time, but since I had the UV filter in place, I didn't need to worry about it.
    * A strap. Yes really. The aftermarket strap I bought holds the camera in a more natural manner and is comfortable for longer than the one that came with the camera. As well as not being emblazoned in neon yellow with "NIKON".
    * One or two large (32 gig+) SD cards, the fastest you can get your hands on that your camera supports. I went with 128 gigs and haven't had to worry about running out of space. I do need a second SD card since I've almost left the house with the SD card sitting in my computer. Whoops.
    * A card reader for the above so you can take advantage of that speed when you're pulling photos back to your computer
    * A cleaning kit. A basic $15 one will probably be fine. I just went with the Amazon Basics one.
    * A hot shoe cover (if applicable)
    * AN EXTRA BATTERY. Probably the most important thing to get. Though depending on your camera, it may not be an issue. The D7500 I haven't managed to do more damage than 50% battery life after 1000 shots and generous use of the back screen for review.
    * Consider a cheap $40 camera bag. Mine's been convenient, though it's too small to carry more than a few extras other than the camera and two lenses. Should tide you over. Or get a bag you can pad appropriately. Honestly, something that doesn't look like a camera bag is a good idea here. A diaper bag would probably be ideal, no joke.
    * A hot shoe cover if your camera has a hot shoe.

    Things to avoid:
    * My desktop mini-tripod for $15 was a waste of money. It couldn't even hold the damned camera still. I wouldn't bother with one of those unless it's the $50 proper aluminum kind.
    * Don't bother with a tripod at all unless you're going to do long exposure shots, focus stacking, or HDR stacking. It's heavy, bulky, and with modern image stabilization not needed except in niche use cases. I've had better success doing HDR post-processing on a single exposure than stacking them (since the clouds are moving, the wind is blowing the leaves around, etc., all of which causes grief when stacking). But maybe I just needed to be shooting more quickly.

    Orca on
    LostNinja
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    If I may add to the discussion, I typically recommend to new photographers that they get a cheaper camera body and look more to the lenses to get the quality. If you go with a Nikon, you'll be able to use that lens on another camera body if you decide to upgrade in the future. The quality of the lens can make a substantial difference in the output.

    For this reason, if you get a camera that comes with a kit lens, that would likely be a telephoto, meaning you can zoom with it. This is a useful lens for practicing with a zoom, but I would highly recommend you get a prime lens, which means it has one focal length and cannot be zoomed unless you physically walk.

    The main reason I suggest a prime lens for new photographers is that it allows you to remove a decision roadblock. I like to make taking a photo as simple as possible, and if I have a telephoto lens on my camera, I fiddle with that more than thinking about the shutter speed or aperture. If I have a prime lens, I often set my camera mode to aperture priority and let the camera decide the shutter speed, and that puts me much more into the mindset of the composition of the photograph. To me, this is where the delight of photography can happen, but it is also a personal experience.

    As the others have said, cameras can be so complicated these days. Take the complication away, and you'll find yourself clicking the shutter button more frequently. Try shooting with aperture priority mode only for a while, then add in manual focus, then a zoom lens will be way easier to tackle.

    If your camera of choice has some nice JPG output, there's nothing inherently wrong with not editing your photos at all until you get the hang of the camera itself! I use Fujifilm and often find the JPG film simulation output to have an irresistible allure. I also do edit with Adobe programs, but more for when I'm going to print at a larger scale.

    The world of photography can be completely overwhelming - don't let that turn you off! Start with whatever makes you want to go out and hit the shutter button as often as you can. As one of my favorite YouTube photographer says, shoot until the memory card is full and your battery is empty! Have fun!

    LostNinja
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    Icemopper's advice of "Start with whatever makes you want to go out and hit the shutter button as often as you can" is exactly the right advice for newbies like us. My hit rate for photos I truly like has been at or below 1% this whole time, but taking more photos means you'll get a number of pictures you like eventually. ;)

    Here's my own journey since I started my H/A thread a month ago. I'm including it because it might be entertaining and an example of how one rank newbie has started to grapple with this complicated piece of machinery. Also, please learn how to use your exposure meter sooner than I did. Holy crap that was silly to rely on looking at the photo on the camera to see if it was under or over-exposed. And I did it for such a long, long time.
    Interspersed in here is shooting hundreds of photos of my messy apartment as I grapple with exposure, ISO, focus, zoom, and all the settings thereof.
    1. First outing: start on auto everything, shooting to RAW + JPG. Get used to how to use the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms. Start to explore some of the options. Use the continuous shot mode to ensure that I'll get at least one photo out of a stream that's in focus and hopefully properly exposed and not blurry. Take about 500 photos, of which maybe 5 turn out okay. Use the 18-300 for the most part, with a few switches to the 10-24mm. Use the software to make photos look like cartoons and people to look like aliens. Crap, the software is complicated as hell too.
    2. Switch to aperture priority mode, start to understand how the aperture changes things. Begin to actually figure out how to configure the autofocus to do what I want. Actually begin using bracketing properly. Attempt to do off-camera HDR stacking with marginal success. Take another 600 photos, of which 5 turn out acceptable, and maybe 3 I actually really like the color. Mixture of the 18-300mm and the 35mm prime (since low light). Start to use software to process the raws. Note: my first pass I got one photo I really liked. I was able to recover two more as I learned more about how to use the software. For my first pass, I still was largely cropping and screwing with overall brightness, contrast, etc.
    3. Discover the on-camera two-shot HDR mode which forces JPG. Do a bunch of shots with this. Discover the exposure bracket setting, proceed to misuse it. Discover photographing people is hard and awkward as hell! Still primarily using the 18-300mm, occasionally going to the 10-24mm.. Take another 600 photos. 10 turn out okay, 5 I actually like. Discover JPG is beginning to limit my options with editing.
    4. Switch to shooting pure raw so I have more to work with when editing. A friend takes a few pictures after switching it to manual mode. Decide I need to get with the program and do some more intense reading of the manual to figure out how to make this work. Switch to manual mode. Figure out how to properly use exposure bracketing. Discover Nikons are effectively ISO invariant for any reasonable ISO, so lock the ISO to 100. The exposure triangle now has two legs: shutter duration and aperture. Discover how to actually read and set the shutter duration. Set exposure bias to -1. Start to care about and understand blown highlights. I still don't know how to use the in-camera exposure meter, lol. Take another 800 photos, 15 were okay, 5 I've bothered going through fully to export.
    5. Discover how the exposure meter works! Begin properly exposing my shots without having to look at the image review! Now almost always using exposure bracketing in continuous high-speed capture mode. I'm starting to get some sense of what sorts of things I like in an image, so starting to actually look for the shot. Still doing a lot of "that might be cool, take a bunch of photos while zooming/panning around and hope it looks good back at home" (spoiler alert: it won't). Mostly 18-300mm, with a handful of shots that didn't turn out in low light with the 35mm prime. 1000 photos, 20 turned out okay, 10 I legit like. First time I actually figure out how to properly use my software to get the look I want with real success. Discover the leveling option in the software! Discover tone mapping!

    For the most part I'm still not making sufficient use of the aperture settings. I'm largely shooting wide open by default, and that's not really a great idea except in low light conditions for the lens. There's still a zillion options on my camera I don't know how to use or even know about. I still am only using a tiny fraction of Affinity Photo's capabilities. It's been a learning process and I expect to keep learning. This pool is deep, and I'm still dipping my toes in after a month and 5 days dedicated to taking photographs.

    A note about JPG: there's professionals that just shoot straight to jpg, use the on-camera editing, and don't bother spending the time to do major edits on their computer because they get the shot they want right there. You can do fine shooting straight to jpg. I'm finding I can recover marginal or shitty photos with raw processing, so it has been worth it for me--though it's quite time consuming. Find what works for you and makes you motivated to go out and shoot more.

    LostNinja
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Another great way to start that I forgot is to turn on the black and white mode and shoot using only that for a while. This will start to train your eye to see the light and dark tones in the world around you as your camera might see them - that'll really help with exposure later. Like Orca said, pay attention to the exposure by way of the histogram, and watch out for highlights. Many cameras have highlight detectors that will show where the whites are blown out - these are unrecoverable details and look flat when printed. Shooting in B&W only will help you see how highlights come in all colors, and how to predict where they might come in.

    I would also recommend finding out what the main functions of a camera are for and how they affect your exposure. You won't need to take multiple exposures on every shot once you know which dial to turn and why. This is why I like to eliminate all but one variable and have someone play with that for a while before moving on, i.e. start with aperture only.

    This doesn't all help with research in buying your first camera Lost Ninja. The important thing is that you practice. Let the camera make a lot of decisions at first, but then try to understand why it made that choice. If it opted for a longer exposure and the shot turned out blurry, was it too dark for the shot? Was the aperture too wide? Maybe the iso needs to be higher too. It really puts a lot of work into your hands up front before you even get to the editing, which is why I also recommend not worrying about RAW editing just yet. Photoshop and Lightroom have an incredible depth that can save a photo, but you should try to get stuff that you're happy with right away! Those tools can add a delicious layer of icing on an already delicious cake.

    LostNinja
  • djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    Orca wrote: »
    Sony is the only one that makes cameras that can operate in true silent mode--which can be important if you're taking pictures around people and want to be less obtrusive. The clack of the shutter is surprisingly loud on my D7500, especially if I'm shooting an exposure-bracketed 5-shot burst.

    Olympus's bodies can do this as well; I have an om-d e-m1 from 2013, and I can shoot 9fps silently for bracketing / auto-hdr / focus stacking / chasing things in motion. (the newer bodies does 60fps / 18fps with continuous AF, though AF isn't a strong point, if you want to do sports seriously then you probably want canon/nikon for the lenses)

  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Oh yeah, I forgot to say many other lines can shoot silently as well. My Fujifilm XT-3 does, as do others in their lineup. Definitely a great setting for street photography of people or when I'm with friends and don't want them making silly faces when I hit the shutter. It helps capture that candid moment.

    LostNinja
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    Yeah, unstated was that I was ONLY looking at Canon, Nikon, and Sony for that statement, and ONLY at the APS-C and full frame sensor format cameras from those three manufacturers.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    edited October 2019
    Icemopper wrote: »
    If I may add to the discussion, I typically recommend to new photographers that they get a cheaper camera body and look more to the lenses to get the quality. If you go with a Nikon, you'll be able to use that lens on another camera body if you decide to upgrade in the future. The quality of the lens can make a substantial difference in the output.

    For this reason, if you get a camera that comes with a kit lens, that would likely be a telephoto, meaning you can zoom with it. This is a useful lens for practicing with a zoom, but I would highly recommend you get a prime lens, which means it has one focal length and cannot be zoomed unless you physically walk.

    The main reason I suggest a prime lens for new photographers is that it allows you to remove a decision roadblock. I like to make taking a photo as simple as possible, and if I have a telephoto lens on my camera, I fiddle with that more than thinking about the shutter speed or aperture. If I have a prime lens, I often set my camera mode to aperture priority and let the camera decide the shutter speed, and that puts me much more into the mindset of the composition of the photograph. To me, this is where the delight of photography can happen, but it is also a personal experience.

    As the others have said, cameras can be so complicated these days. Take the complication away, and you'll find yourself clicking the shutter button more frequently. Try shooting with aperture priority mode only for a while, then add in manual focus, then a zoom lens will be way easier to tackle.

    If your camera of choice has some nice JPG output, there's nothing inherently wrong with not editing your photos at all until you get the hang of the camera itself! I use Fujifilm and often find the JPG film simulation output to have an irresistible allure. I also do edit with Adobe programs, but more for when I'm going to print at a larger scale.

    The world of photography can be completely overwhelming - don't let that turn you off! Start with whatever makes you want to go out and hit the shutter button as often as you can. As one of my favorite YouTube photographer says, shoot until the memory card is full and your battery is empty! Have fun!

    This is fantastic advice! The more I look into this the more amazed I am at how complicated it can get, so locking in settings and removing choice while I learn sounds like a good plan!

    For a prime lens, what would be the standard to start with if I’m mostly just going to start out by waking around the park or going on a hike? I’m wanting to guess a 50mm?

    Also, is there anything I should know about lens compatibility so I don’t get myself in trouble later on, or buy a camera and then am unable to get a compatible lens down the road? From the other thread it sounds like Nikon lenses are all compatable, is that the case? Are there other brands that are similar, or are still easy to make sure I’m getting the right one?

    LostNinja on
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    For lens compatibility, assume that any lens you buy isn't going to be compatible except with cameras by the same maker. There may be adapters available, e.g. like with Sony (which can alleviate their limited native lens selection). I've read performance isn't always as good with adapters--it's very hit and miss and depends on the lens. Someone else can probably go into more detail. Nikon has very good compatibility with previous Nikon lenses. There are compatibility charts out there. Many of the makers have limits beyond which older lenses won't work well because they changed the way the camera or lens mount operates. If you're planning on buying new lenses, you probably don't need to worry about it. If you're planning on trying your luck to get cheaper, older, but frequently just as good glass on ebay, you'll definitely need to worry about it.

    Keep in mind you'll need to make sure your mount is compatible, e.g. if you buy a crop sensor Canon, you can mount both the dedicated crop sensor lenses and the much heavier and more expensive full frame lenses, but the full frame lenses will have a 1.6x crop factor. Whereas a crop sensor lens is incompatible with a full frame Canon camera.

    A 50mm prime on an APS-C sensor gives you something like an 80mm focal length, which is fine for portraits, but probably not what you want for nature photography.

    To quote advice given to me:
    Akilae wrote: »
    Just a tip. A 35mm on an A6300 gives you approximately 50mm. While it's the "standard" focal length, I've always found it a bit long for flexible work. Good for portraiture, but just doesn't cut it for landscapes and indoor shots. The fastest prime in the world won't do you any good when you just can't get far enough to get things in frame. A 20mm gives you closer to a regular human eye pov (30mm), maybe Sony's 20/2.8 pancake. From what I can find, your iPhone SE's focal length is 29mm, so the pancake might be more what you're used to seeing through. If you find you've always needed zoom on the phone, then maybe consider a longer focal length.

    Or just get a good-ish somewhat compact zoom lens. Your family and friends will love you for not needing to constantly stop and swap lenses to get the shot.

    LostNinja
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Agreed with what Orca and Akilae said about lenses. Prime lenses will absolutely frustrate you when you just want to zoom in a little. The trade-off in my view is that you will be on an accelerated path to understanding the underlying functions of the camera and what puts digital cameras in a different game than phone cameras. With a digital camera, you'll have to change your mindset from the phone camera. I still use my phone to take pictures quite a lot when I know what I'm getting out of it, but I use my digital camera when I want to take a photograph. Keeping that distinction is important to me in my work.

    You said you're interested in landscape photography, so something with a wider frame of view would be up your alley. You might look at landscape shots that catch your interest and see if it has the lens information accompanying that. For landscape, you'll likely be using somewhat higher apertures, so having the lowest f-stop won't be as important. (F-stop is the number that indicates what your aperture is, e.g. F2, F1.2, F8). YouTube is filled with really excellent videos of people going through their lens kits and describing the benefits of each one.

    A good landscape lens might be in the 15mm range, which would be quite wide. I often use a 23mm range equivalent for landscape and architecture photography, which serves my purposes quite well. For street photography or when I'm with other people, I use a 35mm equivalent lens, which has a very natural appearance to what my eyes see. When you start looking around, you can quickly get an idea of what the focal distances can do and change. Keep in mind that the higher the focal distance, say anything 60mm and up, you'll likely want to use a tripod while shooting unless the lighting is really good. A general rule of thumb is that the shutter speed should be 1/X where X is your current focal length, and without optical or in-body stabilization, above 1/60 can be easy to blur when handheld.

    All that is to say, I am not opposed to getting a zoom lens, and I have one I really like using. My favorite prime lens is within that zoom lens' range, but I more frequently have only the prime lens with me because as I walk around with just that lens, I can start putting the composition of the photograph together in my mind's eye before I raise the camera to my eye. You get used to it being fixed, and it becomes a full-body activity. It certainly isn't for everyone, but it sets my digital camera photography apart from my phone camera shots.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Soon leaning towards a Nikon D3500 kit that comes with a telescopic lens (18-55mm & 70-300mm) and a 35mm ad an add-on which I’ll probably mostly start with.

    Though I think I also want to test out a Canon Rebel since it was mentioned they may have a better UI for a beginner. Is it relatively easy if I mostly see myself getting new lenses to make sure I get one that will work? Do they have a habit of dropping lens support/comparability for a style of camera.

  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    edited October 2019
    I'm going to go against the overall trend here and say if you have zero experience and have absolutely no idea about the basics of photography, don't run out to buy a camera just yet. Instead, switch your phone camera over to manual and start learning the interplay of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Your phone can also be very useful in learning composition as long as you switch it over to a more traditional 3:2 aspect ratio (a lot of phones these days go wide, which is nice, but you'll need to learn to recompose on a camera).

    Once you feel you have pushed your phone to its limits, then a camera would make sense. By then you'll also have a better idea of what you need/want. For example, I know I can't for the life of me hold a 300mm steady at 1/300, so image stabilization became a must. Or, I found myself shooting in natural/available light a lot, so sharpness when wide open combined with high ISO performance became important.

    If you're intent on buying a camera, keep in mind you're not buying the camera. You're buying the system. Go to a photo store if you have one by you, and play around with the cameras. Then buy the one that fits into your hand most naturally. Half of why I'm a Pentax person is that the camera layout made sense to me (Pentax is all knobs, dials, and wheels, compared to the mostly menu driven system in other brands. It drives all of my friends crazy.)

    Otherwise, I will continue to preach something like a Sony RX100, whichever the current generation is. Or, a micro 4/3 system, most of the benefits of DSLR, with some drawbacks in high ISO performance which may not be an issue depending on your photo preferences. You don't NEED an APSC/FF DSLR to take good photos. You only need a DSLR when you need large sensor size and flexibility in changing lenses.

    Akilae on
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    I agree with a lot of what you're saying Akilae - especially about using the mechanical dials and knobs. The things that I love about using a "real" camera is that they have simple mechanical things that translate to every other camera out there - aperture, shutter speed, focus. If you can find a camera that has those three things in a comfortable place, it makes shooting what you want so much easier, and you'll feel so much more in control. You certainly don't need a DSLR for all that. The advancements in mirrorless cameras have been incredible, and I really love mine so much that I don't know if I'll go back to DSLR for a long time.

    So if you can strip all the other UI stuff away, those are the things that make the shot, really. I find my phone really difficult to use to adjust those in the way that I want, but that's probably because I'm a stickler for my mechanical dials. I like feeling the full click of an aperture or shutter stop, so I know full well what I've changed without needing to look at the dial or often the UI to know what I changed.

    I also agree that going straight to buying a camera without knowing what it does can be a huge hurdle. If there is any way to borrow, rent, or buy a real cheap one on craigslist, I might recommend that as a first step. Probably because I'm just not that good at using my phone, but I wouldn't use it as if it were a full camera. Making the distinction between what they are really changes the approach.

  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Soon leaning towards a Nikon D3500 kit that comes with a telescopic lens (18-55mm & 70-300mm) and a 35mm ad an add-on which I’ll probably mostly start with.

    Though I think I also want to test out a Canon Rebel since it was mentioned they may have a better UI for a beginner. Is it relatively easy if I mostly see myself getting new lenses to make sure I get one that will work? Do they have a habit of dropping lens support/comparability for a style of camera.

    I'm using a Nikon D3300, which the 3500 is a successor to. I'm not sure how much the UI varies between the two, but I haven't had that much trouble with the software. This is definitely the part where getting the camera in your hands is important. If you don't have a camera store near you, go to a Best Buy, they should have a dozen models or so on display.

    mts wrote: »
    heres how i see it being a total win situation for you
    1. stay with your wife while she dog sits. this wins husband points since she knows its out of your comfort zone
    2. have sex all over her friends house so that the next time you see her friend look at you condescendingly, you can wink back knowing you did the freaky deaky where she eats her cheerios.
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Skeith wrote: »
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Soon leaning towards a Nikon D3500 kit that comes with a telescopic lens (18-55mm & 70-300mm) and a 35mm ad an add-on which I’ll probably mostly start with.

    Though I think I also want to test out a Canon Rebel since it was mentioned they may have a better UI for a beginner. Is it relatively easy if I mostly see myself getting new lenses to make sure I get one that will work? Do they have a habit of dropping lens support/comparability for a style of camera.

    I'm using a Nikon D3300, which the 3500 is a successor to. I'm not sure how much the UI varies between the two, but I haven't had that much trouble with the software. This is definitely the part where getting the camera in your hands is important. If you don't have a camera store near you, go to a Best Buy, they should have a dozen models or so on display.

    This is what I’m thinking I’ll do next. I’ve only been able to find one local camera shop but they don’t appear to have a website or anything. Will probably scope them out and go to Best Buy if all else fails.

  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    Buy used. KEH.com, Adorama and eBay (Cameta Cameras if they still exist) have fantastic deals on hardware and glass. Lenses are particularly overpriced and it's just something people deal with. I feel like getting into the camera game is a lot like getting into motorcycle riding: get something you don't mind scuffing up a bit while you learn what you want in the ultimate kit that fits you (if you actually find them, I'd get a D300/700 for like 300 bucks that is almost sure to come with a starter lens of its own).

    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
    Icemopper
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    @LostNinja What did you decide to do/where are you in the decision process?

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    edited November 2019
    Currently still leaning towards the Nikon 3500 but was holding off on purchase for a couple paychecks as the recent life changes mentioned in the OP (divorce) had me buying a lot of new furniture over the last month and taking a chunk out of my “fun fund”.

    Local Best Buy has them for cheaper than Amazon, so will try to see if I can play with one first. Also found a local camera shop I was going to check out before I was ready to buy as well.

    Lastly, I found a place that does both classes and photo excursions. Most of their things appear to be on the south side of Charlotte which is a bit of a drive for me just because traffic just north of the city (where I am) is terrible, but I could probably do one of the newbie boot camp style classes that are like a Saturday day long class once I’m ready.

    LostNinja on
    Orca
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    And as luck would have it, BestBuy has $100 off a Nikon 3500 two lens kit with bag and tripod as one of their Black Friday deals

  • JazzJazz Fuck cancer. Un-UKRegistered User regular
    So far almost all of this thread has focused (heh) on the OP's points 1 and 3 (hardware and software), and not on 2 (learning). I too would like to start improving my photography, but I'm also pretty much a novice and on the rare occasion I get a shot I'm really proud of, it's too often mostly by accident or serendipity. Obviously those are things that play their part, but I'm still curious about improving (well, gaining any) ability at composition and such.

    As the best camera is the one you have with you, whatever that may be, I'm just going to use either my phone camera (LG V30, which has a pretty solid manual mode) or my point-and-shoot (Canon Ixus 165 I was given a few years ago, which mostly serves as a "when I need some optical zoom" device) for now; I'd rather get better results with them before I think about making the leap to anything bigger. Also I'm not looking for live classes or anything for now. So any suggestions of just websites or blogs etc to go to start learning the basics of putting a shot together would be useful and appreciated!

  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    edited November 2019
    Disclaimer: I've had my equipment for what, a month and a half? I really don't know what I'm doing yet. De-rate the advice accordingly, and listen to the folks that actually know their reflex from their iris.

    (spoiling to avoid wall-of-text overshadowing people that know what they're talking about)
    But every so often I'll search for photography <search word> and see what pops up. E.g. "Photography composition" popped this up:

    So searching for things like lighting, contrast, focus, or landscape, portrait, etc. photography. It all helps--at least for where I'm at.

    Something else that has helped is every so often going out with someone else who's taking pictures. They see the world differently and often what I find myself doing is copying their shot and then figuring out why they did it that way. Helps when that person is a better photographer than you!

    Finally, the advice of just get out and shoot is good. I'll reiterate that my percentage of photos I like is around 1%. But if I'm taking several thousand photos, I'll end up with 20 I like, and maybe another 20-40 that look okay (and the rest I'll cull at some point). I'm finding it to be a bit of a numbers game where I'm varying aperture and exposure times for the same shot just to make sure that if the composition is right, the exposure is right too. Each "shot" for me is more like 10-20 shots as I vary the parameters. Or possibly more like 100 if I'm trying to catch something dynamic, like a wave break. Shoot lots and figure out what worked and what didn't, then use that to learn for next time.

    edit: Last time out I got 15 good photos out of 1500 taken. 1% success rate. 2nd from last time out I ended up with 1800 photos, 9 of which I really like. I haven't bothered going through for the okay photos. That's 0.5%. I'm still happy with the results though: it makes me happy to look at those photos.

    Orca on
    JazzIcemopper
  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    Jazz wrote: »
    So far almost all of this thread has focused (heh) on the OP's points 1 and 3 (hardware and software), and not on 2 (learning). I too would like to start improving my photography, but I'm also pretty much a novice and on the rare occasion I get a shot I'm really proud of, it's too often mostly by accident or serendipity. Obviously those are things that play their part, but I'm still curious about improving (well, gaining any) ability at composition and such.

    As the best camera is the one you have with you, whatever that may be, I'm just going to use either my phone camera (LG V30, which has a pretty solid manual mode) or my point-and-shoot (Canon Ixus 165 I was given a few years ago, which mostly serves as a "when I need some optical zoom" device) for now; I'd rather get better results with them before I think about making the leap to anything bigger. Also I'm not looking for live classes or anything for now. So any suggestions of just websites or blogs etc to go to start learning the basics of putting a shot together would be useful and appreciated!

    If you're not into classes, 770 is the Dewey class for photography, and I suggest browsing at your local library. This site has links to other blogs that you might find useful-- one is for lighting.

    mts wrote: »
    heres how i see it being a total win situation for you
    1. stay with your wife while she dog sits. this wins husband points since she knows its out of your comfort zone
    2. have sex all over her friends house so that the next time you see her friend look at you condescendingly, you can wink back knowing you did the freaky deaky where she eats her cheerios.
    Jazz
  • JazzJazz Fuck cancer. Un-UKRegistered User regular
    edited November 2019
    Orca wrote: »
    I'll reiterate that my percentage of photos I like is around 1%. But if I'm taking several thousand photos, I'll end up with 20 I like, and maybe another 20-40 that look okay (and the rest I'll cull at some point).

    I remember a tip from a professional photographer that I read once - and this was back in the days of film, long before digital - that he would get maybe one or two shots he thought were actually decent for every roll of film he used. That always stuck with me.

    With the sheer amount of shots we can take now, it doesn't surprise me that the ratio would shift a bit. Obviously we had to be slightly more discerning in the film era as each click of the shutter had a quantifiable cost attached to it, but with digital we can take a relatively massive number of shots to pick the cream of the crop from.

    Jazz on
    OrcaSkeithKetBra
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    edited February 23
    So to update the thread, I got the d3500 around Thanksgiving, but so far had only really used it to get pictures at the holidays. Today though I spent all day taking a photography class and feel a lot more confident about what I can do moving forward now that I actually understand how things like aperture and shutter speed can affect my photos and create cool affects.

    Anyway, here is a cool sunset I got a shot of about a month ago (before I learned how to do better today). Still think it looks pretty cool though.

    y9vl73capm8h.jpeg

    LostNinja on
    VishNubElvenshaedavidsdurionsJazzdjmitchellaHappylilElfChiselphaneOrca
  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Okay, now a question about accessory flashes!

    My class covered their importance, but not really how to select the correct one.

    This is the one I’m looking at: https://www.adorama.com/nksb500u.html

    I would mostly be looking to use it with a 35mm prime, 18-55mm kit lens, and a 70-300mm zoom (this will probably be the one I use it the most with for portraiture and pics of individuals at events (probably can’t call it a candid when I want to use a giant flash).

    Would this work for my needs, the listed lens coverage, and not fully understanding that, is what I think is throwing me off?

  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Are you particularly interested in studio work for portraiture, or do you have example photography that shows the kind of style you're looking for?

    The reason I ask is that you might be better off not getting a flash yet until you practice natural lighting when it is available and finding out how the sun is working for or against you. When you take a photo you really like, study what the light was like at that moment - is the sun direct/indirect, is there a reflection from a nearby object, are other lights nearby creating shadows on the subject? Most portrait flash and lighting won't come from the camera body, as that creates strange shadows; instead they use diffusers, reflectors, and off body flash to create the specific lighting they want for that session.

    It could be that I'm way off, but I'm biased because I only use a flash if I want my end-result to look like a disposable camera, and I don't do any studio portrait work. I do like getting that disposable look sometimes, but in most other shooting scenarios, either the natural light is adequate, or I change the style of shot to accommodate the atmosphere i.e. increase iso, lean in to the noise, and go for a grainy night shot.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    No pictures, but in the class I took they spent a lot of time showing how to use them effectively And showcasing the benefits even when outdoors or not doing portraiture.

    They have a separate course on flash photography that I’ll probably end up taking at some point as well, just looking for one that will align with the lenses I’ll be using for the time being.

  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Ah, if it is for a class I'd lean on their recommendations over mine for sure. I just don't use a flash, so I don't know enough about them to help with a major purchase like that. Sorry!

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